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Caesar's Column by Ignatius Donnelly

Part 4 out of 6

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permitted them to be brought to this state. And where else can you
turn? Is it to the newspapers? They are a thousand times more
dishonest than the workingmen. Is it to the halls of legislation?
There corruption riots and rots until the stench fills the earth. The
only ones who could reform the world are the rich and powerful: but
they see nothing to reform. Life is all sunshine for them;
civilization is a success for them; they need no better heaven than
they enjoy. They have so long held mankind in subjection that they
laugh at the idea of the great, dark, writhing masses, rising up to
overthrow them. Government is, to them, an exquisitely adjusted piece
of mechanism whose object is to keep the few happy and the many

"But," said I, "if an appeal were made to them; if they were assured
of the dangers that really threatened them; if their better and
kindlier natures were appealed to, do you not think they might
undertake the task of remedying the evils endured by the multitude?
They cannot all be as abandoned and utterly vicious as Prince Cabano
and his Council."

"No," he replied; "have you not already made the test? The best of
them would probably hang you for your pains. Do you think they would
be willing to relinquish one-tenth of their pleasures, or their
possessions, to relieve the distresses of their fellows? If you do,
you have but a slight conception of the callousness of their hearts.
You were right in what you said was the vital principle of
Christianity--brotherly love, not alone of the rich for the rich, but
of the poor and rich for each other. But that spirit has passed away
from the breasts of the upper classes. Science has increased their
knowledge one hundred per cent. and their vanity one thousand per
cent. The more they know of the material world the less they can
perceive the spiritual world around and within it. The acquisition of
a few facts about nature has closed their eyes to the existence of a

"Ah," said I, "that is a dreadful thought! It seems to me that the
man who possesses his eyesight must behold a thousand evidences of a
Creator denied to a blind man; and in the same way the man who knows
most of the material world should see the most conclusive evidences
of design and a Designer. The humblest blade of grass preaches an
incontrovertible sermon. What force is it that brings it up, green
and beautiful, out of the black, dead earth? Who made it succulent
and filled it full of the substances that will make flesh and blood
and bone for millions of gentle, grazing animals? What a gap would it
have been in nature if there had been no such growth, or if, being
such, it had been poisonous or inedible? Whose persistent purpose is
it--whose everlasting will--that year after year, and age after age,
stirs the tender roots to life and growth, for the sustenance of
uncounted generations of creatures? Every blade of grass, therefore,
points with its tiny finger straight upward to heaven, and proclaims
an eternal, a benevolent God. It is to me a dreadful thing that men
can penetrate farther and farther into nature with their senses, and
leave their reasoning faculties behind them. Instead of mind
recognizing mind, dust simply perceives dust. This is the suicide of
the soul."

"Well, to this extremity," said Maximilian, "the governing classes of
the world have progressed. We will go to-morrow--it will be
Sunday--and visit one of their churches; and you shall see for
yourself to what the blind adoration of wealth and the heartless
contempt of humanity have brought the world."



Max and I entered the church together. It is a magnificent
structure--palatial, cathedral-like, in its proportions--a gorgeous
temple of fashion, built with exquisite taste, of different-colored
marbles, and surrounded by graceful columns. Ushers, who looked like
guards in uniform, stood at the doors, to keep out the poorly-dressed
people, if any such presented themselves; for it was evident that
this so-called church was exclusively a club-house of the rich.

As we entered we passed several marble statues. It is a curious
illustration of the evolution of religion, in these latter days, that
these statues are not representations of any persons who have ever
lived, or were supposed to have lived on earth, or anywhere else; and
there was not in or about them any hint whatever of myth or antique
belief. In the pre-Christian days the work of the poet and sculptor
taught a kind of history in the statues of the pagan divinities.
Bacchus told of some ancient race that had introduced the vine into
Europe and Africa. Ceres, with her wheat-plant, recited a similar
story as to agriculture. And Zeus, Hercules, Saturn and all the rest
were, in all probability--as Socrates declared--deified men. And, of
course, Christian art was full of beautiful allusions to the life of
the Savior, or to his great and holy saints and martyrs. But here we
had simply splendid representations of naked human figures, male and
female, wondrously beautiful, but holding no associations whatever
with what you and I, my dear Heinrich, call religion.

Passing these works of art, we entered a magnificent hall. At the
farther end was a raised platform, almost embowered in flowers of
many hues, all in full bloom. The light entered through stained
windows, on the sides of the hall, so colored as to cast a weird and
luxurious effulgence over the great chamber. On the walls were a
number of pictures; some of a very sensuous character; all of great
beauty and perfect workmanship; but none of them of a religious
nature, unless we might except one of the nude Venus rising from the

The body of the hall was arranged like a great lecture-room; there
were no facilities for or suggestions of devotion, but the seats were
abundantly cushioned, and with every arrangement for the comfort of
the occupants. The hall was not more than half full, the greater part
of those present being women. Most of these were fair and beautiful;
and even those who had long passed middle age retained, by the virtue
of many cunning arts, well known to these people, much of the
appearance and freshness of youth. I might here note that the
prolongation of life in the upper classes, and its abbreviation in
the lower classes, are marked and divergent characteristics of this
modern civilization.

I observed in the women, as I had in those of the Darwin Hotel,
associated with great facial perfection, a hard and soulless look out
of the eyes; and here, even more than there, I could not but notice a
sensuality in the full, red lips, and the quick-glancing eyes, which
indicated that they were splendid animals, and nothing more.

An usher led us up one of the thickly carpeted aisles to a front pew;
there was a young lady already seated in it. I entered first, and Max
followed me. The young lady was possessed of imperial beauty. She
looked at us both quite boldly, without shrinking, and smiled a
little. We sat down. They were singing a song--I could not call it a
hymn; it was all about the "Beautiful and the Good"--or something of
that sort. The words and tune were fine, but there were no allusions
to religion, or God, or heaven, or anything else of a sacred
character. The young lady moved toward me and offered to share her
song-book with me. She sang quite sweetly, but there was no more soul
in her voice than there was in the song.

After a little time the preacher appeared on the platform. Max told
me his name was Professor Odyard, and that he was one of the most
eminent philosophers and orators of the day, but that his moral
character was not of the best. He was a large, thick-set, florid,
full-bearded man, with large lips, black hair and eyes, and swarthy
skin. His voice was sweet and flute-like, and he had evidently
perfected himself in the graces of elocution. He spoke with a great
deal of animation and action; in fact, he was a very vivacious actor.

He commenced by telling the congregation of some new scientific
discoveries, recently made in Germany, by Professor Von der Slahe, to
the effect that the whole body of man, and of all other animals and
even inanimate things, was a mass of living microbes--not in the
sense of disease or parasites, but that the intrinsic matter of all
forms was life-forms; the infinite molecules were creatures; and that
there was no substance that was not animated; and that life was
therefore infinitely more abundant in the world than matter; that
life was matter.

And then he went on to speak of the recent great discoveries made by
Professor Thomas O'Connor, of the Oregon University, which promise to
end the reign of disease on earth, and give men patriarchal leases of
life. More than a century ago it had been observed, where the
bacteria of contagious disorders were bred in culture-infusions, for
purposes of study, that after a time they became surrounded by masses
of substance which destroyed them. It occurred to Professor O'Connor,
that it was a rule of Nature that life preyed on life, and that every
form of being was accompanied by enemies which held its over-growth
in check: the deer were eaten by the wolves; the doves by the hawks;
the gnats by the dragon-flies.

"Big fleas had little fleas to bite 'em,
And these had lesser still, ad infinitum."

Professor O'Connor found that, in like manner, bacteria, of all
kinds, were devoured by minuter forms of life. Recovery from sickness
meant that the microbes were destroyed by their natural enemies
before they had time to take possession of the entire system; death
resulted where the vital powers could not hold out until the balance
of nature was thus re-established. He found, therefore, that the
remedy for disease was to take some of the culture-infusion in which
malignant bacteria had just perished, and inject it into the veins of
the sick man. This was like stocking a rat-infested barn with
weasels. The invisible, but greedy swarms of bacilli penetrated every
part of the body in search of their prey, and the man recovered his
health. Where an epidemic threatened, the whole community was to be
thus inoculated, and then, when a wandering microbe found lodgment in
a human system, it would be pounced upon and devoured before it could
reproduce its kind. He even argued that old age was largely due to
bacteria; and that perpetual youth would be possible if a germicide
could be found that would reach every fiber of the body, and destroy
the swarming life-forms which especially attacked the vital forces of
the aged.

And then he referred to a new invention by a California scientist,
named Henry Myers, whereby telephonic communication had been
curiously instituted with intelligences all around us--not spirits or
ghosts, but forms of life like our own, but which our senses had
hitherto not been able to perceive. They were new forms of matter,
but of an extreme tenuity of substance; and with intellects much like
our own, though scarcely of so high or powerful an order. It was
suggested by the preacher that these shadowy earth-beings had
probably given rise to many of the Old-World beliefs as to ghosts,
spirits, fairies, goblins, angels and demons. The field in this
direction, he said, had been just opened, and it was difficult to
tell how far the diversity and multiplicity of creation extended. He
said it was remarkable that our ancestors had not foreseen these
revelations, for they knew that there were sound-waves both above and
below the register of our hearing; and light-waves of which our eyes
were able to take no cognizance; and therefore it followed, _a
priori_, that nature might possess an infinite number of forms of
life which our senses were not fitted to perceive. For instance, he
added, there might be right here, in this very hall, the houses and
work-shops and markets of a multitude of beings, who swarmed about
us, but of such tenuity that they passed through our substance, and
we through theirs, without the slightest disturbance of their
continuity. All that we knew of Nature taught us that she was
tireless in the prodigality of her creative force, and boundless in
the diversity of her workmanship; and we now knew that what the
ancients called spirit was simply an attenuated condition of matter.

The audience were evidently keenly intellectual and highly educated,
and they listened with great attention to this discourse. In fact, I
began to perceive that the office of preacher has only survived, in
this material age, on condition that the priest shall gather up,
during the week, from the literary and scientific publications of the
whole world, the gems of current thought and information, digest them
carefully, and pour them forth, in attractive form, for their
delectation on Sunday. As a sort of oratorical and poetical reviewer,
essayist and rhapsodist, the parson and his church had survived the
decadence of religion.

"Nature," he continued, "is as merciless as she is prolific. Let us
consider the humblest little creature that lives--we will say the
field-mouse. Think what an exquisite compendium it is of bones,
muscles, nerves, veins, arteries--all sheathed in such a delicate,
flexible and glossy covering of skin. Observe the innumerable and
beautiful adjustments in the little animal: the bright, pumping,
bounding blood; the brilliant eyes, with their marvelous powers; the
apprehending brain, with its sentiments and emotions, its loves, its
fears, its hopes; and note, too, that wonderful net-work, that
telegraphic apparatus of nerves which connects the brain with the
eyes and ears and quick, vivacious little feet. One who took but a
half view of things would say, 'How benevolent is Nature, that has so
kindly equipped the tiny field-mouse with the means of
protection--its quick, listening ears; its keen, watchful eyes; its
rapid, glancing feet!' But look a little farther, my brethren, and
what do you behold? This same benevolent Nature has formed another,
larger creature, to watch for and spring upon this 'timorous little
beastie,' even in its moments of unsuspecting happiness, and rend,
tear, crush and mangle it to pieces. And to this especial work Nature
has given the larger animal a set of adjustments as exquisitely
perfect as those it has conferred on the smaller one; to-wit: eyes to
behold in the darkness; teeth to tear; claws to rend; muscles to
spring; patience to wait; and a stomach that clamors for the blood of
its innocent fellow-creature.

"And what lesson does this learned and cultured age draw from these
facts? Simply this: that the plan of Nature necessarily involves
cruelty, suffering, injustice, destruction, death.

"We are told by a school of philanthropists more numerous in the old
time, fortunately, than they are at present, that men should not be
happy while their fellow-men are miserable; that we must decrease our
own pleasures to make others comfortable; and much more of the same
sort. But, my brethren, does Nature preach that gospel to the cat
when it destroys the field-mouse? No; she equips it with special
aptitudes for the work of slaughter.

"If Nature, with her interminable fecundity, pours forth millions of
human beings for whom there is no place on earth, and no means of
subsistence, what affair is that of ours, my brethren? We did not
make them; we did not ask Nature to make them. And it is Nature's
business to feed them, not yours or mine. Are we better than Nature?
Are we wiser? Shall we rebuke the Great Mother by caring for those
whom she has abandoned? If she intended that all men should be happy,
why did she not make them so? She is omnipotent. She permits evil to
exist, when with a breath of her mouth she could sweep it away
forever. But it is part of her scheme of life. She is indifferent to
the cries of distress which rise up to her, in one undying wail, from
the face of the universe. With stony eyes the thousand-handed goddess
sits, serene and merciless, in the midst of her worshipers, like a
Hindoo idol. Her skirts are wet with blood; her creation is based on
destruction; her lives live only by murder. The cruel images of the
pagan are truer delineations of Nature than the figures which typify
the impotent charity of Christendom--an exotic in the midst of an
alien world.

"Let the abyss groan. Why should we trouble ourselves. Let us close
our ears to the cries of distress we are not able to relieve. It was
said of old time, 'Many are called, but few chosen.' Our ancestors
placed a mythical interpretation on this text; but we know that it
means:--many are called to the sorrows of life, but few are chosen to
inherit the delights of wealth and happiness. Buddha told us,
'Poverty is the curse of Brahma'; Mahomet declared that 'God smote
the wicked with misery'; and Christ said, 'The poor ye have always
with you.' Why, then, should we concern ourselves about the poor?
They are part of the everlasting economy of human society. Let us
leave them in the hands of Nature. She who made them can care for

"Let us rejoice that out of the misery of the universe we are
reserved for happiness. For us are music, painting, sculpture, the
interweaving glories of the dance, the splendors of poetry and
oratory, the perfume of flowers, all delicate and dainty viands and
sparkling wines and nectars; and above all Love! Love! Entrancing,
enrapturing Love! With its glowing cheeks--its burning eyes--its hot
lips--its wreathing arms--its showering kisses--its palpitating
bosoms--its intertwining symmetry of beauty and of loveliness."

Here the young lady with the song book drew up closer to me, and
looked up into my eyes with a gaze which no son of Adam could
misunderstand. I thought of Estella, like a true knight, and turned
my face to the preacher. While his doctrines were, to me, utterly
heartless and abominable, there was about him such an ecstasy of
voluptuousness, associated with considerable intellectual force and
passionate oratory, that I was quite interested in him as a
psychological study. I could not help but think by what slow stages,
through many generations, a people calling themselves Christians
could have been brought to this curious commingling of
intellectuality and bestiality; and all upon the basis of
indifference to the sorrows and sufferings of their fellow-creatures.

"On with the dance!" shouted the preacher, "though we dance above
graves. Let the very calamities of the world accentuate our
pleasures, even as the warm and sheltered fireside seems more
delightful when we hear without the roar of the tempest. The ancient
Egyptians brought into their banquets the mummied bodies of the dead,
to remind them of mortality. It was a foolish custom. Men are made to
feast and made to die; and the one is as natural as the other. Let
us, on the other hand, when we rejoice together, throw open our
windows, that we may behold the swarming, starving multitudes who
stream past our doors. Their pinched and ashy faces and hungry eyes,
properly considered, will add a flavor to our viands. We will rejoice
to think that if, in this ill-governed universe, all cannot be blest,
we at least rise above the universal wretchedness and are reserved
for happiness.

"Rejoice, therefore, my children, in your wealth, in your health, in
your strength, in your bodies, and in your loves. Ye are the flower
and perfection of mankind. Let no plea shorten, by one instant, your
pleasures. Death is the end of all things--of consciousness; of
sensation; of happiness. Immortality is the dream of dotards. When ye
can no longer enjoy, make ready for the grave; for the end of Love is

"And what is Love? Love is the drawing together of two beings, in
that nature-enforced affinity and commingling, when out of the very
impact and identity of two spirits, life, triumphant life, springs
into the universe.

"What a powerful impulse is this Love? It is nature-wide. The rushing
together of the chemical elements; the attraction of suns and
planets--all are Love. See how even the plant casts its pollen abroad
on the winds, that it may somewhere reach and rest upon the loving
bosom of a sister-flower; and there, amid perfume and sweetness and
the breath of zephyrs, the great mystery of life is re-enacted. The
plant is without intellect, but it is sensible to Love.

"And who shall doubt, when he contemplates the complicated mechanism
by which, everywhere, this God-Nature--blind as to pain and sin and
death, but tender and solicitous as to birth and life--makes Love
possible, imperative, soulful, overwhelming, that the purposed end
and aim of life is Love. And how pitiful and barren seem to us the
lives of the superstitious and ascetic hermits of the ancient world,
who fled to desert places, to escape from Love, and believed that
they were overcoming the foul fiend by prayers and fastings and
scourgings. But outraged Nature, mighty amid the ruins of their
blasted hearts, reasserted herself, and visited them even in dreams;
and the white arms and loving lips of woman overwhelmed them with hot
and passionate caresses, in visions against which they strove in vain.

"Oh, my brethren, every nerve, fiber, muscle, and 'petty artery of
the body,' participates in Love. Love is the conqueror of death,
because Love alone perpetuates life. Love is life! Love is religion!
Love is the universe! Love is God!" And with this climax he sat down
amid great applause, as in a theater.

I need scarcely say to you, my dear Heinrich, that I was absolutely
shocked by this sermon. Knowing, as you do, the kind and pure and
gentle doctrines taught in the little church in our mountain home,
where love means charity for man and worship of God, you may imagine
how my blood boiled at this cruel, carnal and heartless harangue. The
glowing and picturesque words which he poured out were simply a
carpet of flowers spread over crawling serpents.

The audience of course were familiar with these doctrines. The
preacher owed his success, indeed, to the fact that he had
courageously avowed the sentiments which had dwelt in the breasts of
the people and had been enacted in their lives for generations. The
congregation had listened with rapt attention to this eloquent echo
of their own hearts; this justification of their Nature-worship; this
re-birth of Paganism. The women nestled closer to the men at the
tender passages; and I noticed many a flashing interchange of
glances, between bold, bright eyes, which told too well that the
great preacher's adjurations were not thrown away upon unwilling

Another song was sung; and then there was a rustle of silks and
satins. The audience were about to withdraw. The preacher sat upon
his sofa, on the platform, mopping his broad forehead with his
handkerchief, for he had spoken with great energy. I could restrain
myself no longer. I rose and said in a loud voice, which at once
arrested the movement of the congregation:

"Reverend sir, would you permit a stranger to make a few comments on
your sermon?"

"Certainly," he replied, very courteously; "we welcome discussion.
Will you step to the platform?"

"No," I replied; "with your permission I shall speak from where I

"I can only say to you that I am inexpressibly shocked and grieved by
your discourse.

"Are you blind? Can you not see that Christianity was intended by God
to be something better and nobler, superimposed, as an after-birth of
time, on the brutality of the elder world? Does not the great
doctrine of Evolution, in which you believe, preach this gospel? If
man rose from a brute form, then advanced to human and savage life,
yet a robber and a murderer; then reached civility and culture, and
philanthropy; can you not see that the fingerboard of God points
forward, unerringly, along the whole track of the race; and that it
is still pointing forward to stages, in the future, when man shall
approximate the angels? But this is not your doctrine. Your creed
does not lead forward; it leads backward, to the troglodyte in his
cavern, splitting the leg-bones of his victim to extract the marrow
for his cannibalistic feast. _He_ would have enjoyed your sermon!"
[Great excitement in the congregation.]

"And your gospel of Love. What is it but beastliness? Like the old
Greeks and Romans, and all undeveloped antiquity, you deify the
basest traits of the fleshly organism; you exalt an animal incident
of life into the end of life. You drive out of the lofty temples of
the soul the noble and pure aspirations, the great charities, the
divine thoughts, which should float there forever on the pinions of
angels; and you cover the floor of the temple with crawling
creatures, toads, lizards, vipers--groveling instincts, base
appetites, leprous sensualities, that befoul the walls of the house
with their snail-like markings, and climb, and climb, until they look
out of the very windows of the soul, with such repellent and brutish
eyes, that real love withers and shrinks at the sight, and dies like
a blasted flower.

"O shallow teacher of the blind, do you not see that Christianity was
a new force, Heaven-sent, to overcome that very cruelty and
heartlessness of Nature which you so much commend? Nature's offspring
was indeed the savage, merciless as the creed you preach. Then came
God, who breathed a soul into the nostrils of the savage. Then came
One after Him who said the essence of all religion was man's love for
his fellow man, and for the God that is over all; that the highest
worship of the Father was to heal the sick, and feed the hungry, and
comfort the despised and rejected, and lift up the fallen. And
love!--that was true love, made up in equal parts of adoration and of
pity! Not the thing you call love, which makes these faces flush with
passion and these eyes burn with lust!"

I had gotten thus far, and was proceeding swimmingly, very much to my
own satisfaction, when an old woman who stood near me, and who was
dressed like a girl of twenty, with false rubber shoulders and neck
and cheeks, to hide the ravages of time, hurled a huge hymn-book, the
size of a Bible, at me. Age had not impaired the venerable woman's
accuracy of aim, nor withered the strength of her good right arm; and
the volume of diluted piety encountered me, with great force, just
below my right ear, and sent me reeling over against Max. As I rose,
nothing disconcerted, to renew my discourse, I found the air full of
hymn-books, cushions, umbrellas, overshoes, and every other missile
they could lay their hands on; and then I perceived that the whole
congregation, men, women, children, preacher, clerks and ushers, were
all advancing upon me with evil intent. I would fain have staid to
have argued the matter out with them, for I was full of a great many
fine points, which I had not yet had time to present, but Max, who
never had any interest in theological discussions, and abhorred a
battle with Amazons, seized me by the arm and literally dragged me
out of the church. I continued, however, to shout back my anathemas
of the preacher, and that worthy answered me with floods of abuse;
and the women screamed, and the men howled and swore; and altogether
it was a very pretty assemblage that poured forth upon the sidewalk.

"Come along," said Max; "you will be arrested, and that will spoil

He hurried me into a carriage and we drove off. Although still full
of the debate, I could not help but laugh when I looked back at the
multitude in front of the church. Every one was wildly ejaculating,
except some of the sisters, who were kissing the hands and face of
the preacher--dear, good man--to console him for the hateful insults
I had heaped upon him! They reminded me of a swarm of hornets whose
paper domicile had been rudely kicked by the foot of some wandering
country boy.

"Well, well," said Max, "you are a strange character! Your impulses
will some time cost you your life. If I did not think so much of you
as I do, I should tell you you were a great fool. Why couldn't you
keep quiet? You surely didn't hope to convert that congregation, any
more than you could have converted the Council of the Plutocracy."

"But, my dear fellow," I replied, "it was a great comfort to me to be
able to tell that old rascal just what I thought of him. And you
can't tell--it may do some good."

"No, no," said Max; "the only preacher that will ever convert that
congregation is Csar Lomellini. Csar is a bigger brute than they
are--which is saying a good deal. The difference is, they are brutes
who are in possession of the good things of this world; and Csar is
a brute who wants to get into possession of them. And there is
another difference: they are polished and cultured brutes, and Csar
is the brute natural,--'the unaccommodated man' that Lear spoke of."



I need not say to you, my dear Heinrich, how greatly I love Estella.
It is not alone for her beauty, although that is as perfect and as
graceful as the dream of some Greek artist hewn in immortal marble.
That alone would have elicited merely my admiration. But there is
that in her which wins my profoundest respect and love--I had almost
said my veneration. Her frame is but the crystal-clear covering of a
bright and pure soul, without stain or shadow or blemish. It does not
seem possible for her to be otherwise than good. And yet, within this
goodness, there is an hereditary character intrenched, capable, under
necessity, of all heroism--a fearless and a potent soul. And, besides
all this, she is a woman, womanly; a being not harsh and angular in
character, but soft and lovable--

"A countenance in which do meet
Sweet records, promises as sweet;
A creature not too bright or good
For human nature's daily food;
For transient sorrows, simple wiles,
Praise, blame, love, kisses, tears and smiles."

You may judge, my dear brother, having gone through a similar
experience, how profoundly I was drawn to her; how absolute a
necessity she seemed to my life. Neither was I a despairing lover;
for had she not, at a time when death seemed imminent, avowed her
love for me? Yes, "_love_"--that was the word she used; and the look
which accompanied it gave the word a double emphasis. But there was a
giant difficulty in my path. If she had compromised her maiden
reserve in that particular, how could I take advantage of it? And how
could I still further take advantage of her lonely and friendless
condition to press my suit? And yet I could not leave her alone to
encounter all the dangers of the dreadful time which I know too well
is approaching. If she had stood, happy and contented, in the midst
of her family, under the shelter of father and mother, surrounded by
brothers and sisters, with a bright and peaceful future before her, I
could have found courage enough to press my suit, to throw myself at
her feet, and woo her boldly, as man woos woman. But this poor,
unhappy, friendless, lovely girl! What could I do? Day and night I
pondered the problem, and at last an expedient occurred to me.

I called upon her. She had fled from the palace without a wardrobe. A
woman may be a heroine, but she is still a woman. Joan of Arc must
have given considerable thought to her cap and ribbons. Estella was
busy, with a dressmaker, contriving several dresses. I asked her if I
could speak with her. She started, blushed a little, and led the way
into another room. I closed the door.

"My dear Estella," I said, "I have been amusing my leisure by
composing a fairy story."

"Indeed," she said, smiling, "a strange occupation for a
philanthropist and philosopher, to say nothing of a poet."

"It is, perhaps," I replied, in the same playful vein, "the poetical
portion of my nature that has set me at this work. But I cannot
satisfy myself as to the denouement of my story, and I desire your
aid and counsel."

"I am all attention," she replied; "proceed with your story;--but
first, wait a moment. I will get some of my work; and then I can
listen to you without feeling that I am wasting precious time."

"Otherwise you would feel," I said, "that your time was wasted
listening to me?"

"No," she said, laughing, "but in listening to a fairy tale." She
returned in a few moments, and we took seats, I covering my real
feeling by an assumed gayety, and Estella listening attentively, with
her eyes on her work.

"You must know," I commenced, "that my tale is entitled:


'Once upon a time'--you know all fairy stories are dated from that
eventful period of the world's history--there was a beautiful
princess, who lived in a grand palace, and her name was Princess
Charming; and she was every way worthy of her name; for she was as
good as she was handsome. But a dreadful dwarf, who had slain many
people in that country, slew her father and mother, and robbed the
poor Princess of her fine house, and carried her off and delivered
her to an old fairy, called Cathel, a wicked and bad old sorceress
and witch, who sat all day surrounded by black cats, weaving
incantations and making charms, which she sold to all who would buy
of her. Now, among the customers of Cathel was a monstrous and bloody
giant, whose castle was not far away. He was called The Ogre Redgore.
He was a cannibal, and bought charms from Cathel, with which to
entice young men, women and children into his dreadful den, which was
surrounded with heaps of bones of those he had killed and devoured.
Now it chanced that when he came one day to buy his charms from
Cathel, the old witch asked him if he did not desire to purchase a
beautiful young girl. He said he wanted one of that very kind for a
banquet he was about to give to some of his fellow giants. And
thereupon the wicked old woman showed him the fair and lovely
Princess Charming, sitting weeping, among the ashes, on the kitchen
hearth. He felt her flesh, to see if she was young and tender enough
for the feast, and, being satisfied upon this important point, he and
the old witch were not long in coming to terms as to the price to be
paid for her.

"And so he started home, soon after, with poor Princess Charming
under his arm; she, the while, filling the air with her piteous
lamentations and appeals for help.

"And now it so chanced that a wandering knight, called Weakhart, from
a far country, came riding along the road that very day, clad in
steel armor, and with his lance in rest. And when he heard the
pitiful cries of Princess Charming, and beheld her beauty, he drove
the spurs into his steed and dashed forward, and would have driven
the lance clear through the giant's body; but that worthy saw him
coming, and, dropping the Princess and springing aside with great
agility, he caught the lance and broke it in many pieces. Then they
drew their swords and a terrible battle ensued; and Princess Charming
knelt down, the while, by the roadside, and prayed long and earnestly
for the success of the good Knight Weakhart. But if he was weak of
heart he was strong of arm, and at last, with a tremendous blow, he
cut the ugly ogre's head off; and the latter fell dead on the road,
as an ogre naturally will when his head is taken off. And then the
Knight Weakhart was more afraid of being alone with the Princess than
he had been of the giant. But she rose up, and dried her tears, and
thanked him. And then the Princess and the Knight were in a grave
quandary; for, of course, she could not go back to the den of that
wicked witch, Cathel, and she had nowhere else to go. And so
Weakhart, with many tremblings, asked her to go with him to a cavern
in the woods, where he had taken shelter."

Here I glanced at Estella, and her face was pale and quiet, and the
smile was all gone from it. I continued:

"There was nothing else for it; and so the poor Princess mounted in
front of the Knight on his horse, and they rode off together to the
cavern. And there Weakhart fitted up a little room for the Princess,
and made her a bed of the fragrant boughs of trees, and placed a door
to the room and showed her how she could fasten it, and brought her
flowers. And every day he hunted the deer and the bear, and made a
fire and cooked for her; and he treated her with as much courtesy and
respect as if she had been a queen sitting upon her throne.

"And, oh! how that poor Knight Weakhart loved the Princess! He loved
the very ground she walked on; and he loved all nature because it
surrounded her; and he loved the very sun, moon and stars because
they shone down upon her.

Nay, not only did he love her; he worshiped her, as the devotee
worships his god. She was all the constellations of the sky to him.
Universal nature had nothing that could displace her for a moment
from his heart. Night and day she filled his soul with her ineffable
image; and the birds and the breeze and the whispering trees seemed
to be all forever speaking her beloved name in his ears.

"But what could he do? The Princess was poor, helpless, dependent
upon him. Would it not be unmanly of him to take advantage of her
misfortunes and frighten or coax her into becoming his wife? Might
she not mistake gratitude for love? Could she make a free choice
unless she was herself free?

"And so the poor Knight Weakhart stilled the beating of the
fluttering bird in his bosom, and hushed down his emotions, and
continued to hunt and cook and wait upon his beloved Princess.

"At last, one day, the Knight Weakhart heard dreadful news. A people
called Vandals, rude and cruel barbarians, bloodthirsty and warlike,
conquerors of nations, had arrived in immense numbers near the
borders of that country, and in a few days they would pour over and
ravage the land, killing the men and making slaves of the women. He
must fly. One man could do nothing against such numbers. He could not
leave the Princess Charming behind him: she would fall into the hands
of the savages. He knew that she had trust enough in him to go to the
ends of the earth with him. He had a sort of dim belief that she
loved him. What should he do? Should he overcome his scruples and ask
the lady of his love to wed him; or should he invite her to accompany
him as his friend and sister? Would it not be mean and contemptible
to take advantage of her distresses, her solitude and the very danger
that threatened the land, and thus coerce her into a marriage which
might be distasteful to her?

"Now, my dear Estella," I said, with a beating heart, "thus far have
I progressed with my fairy tale; but I know not how to conclude it.
Can you give me any advice?"

She looked up at me, blushing, but an arch smile played about her

"Let us play out the play," she said. "I will represent the Princess
Charming--a very poor representative, I fear;--and you will take the
part of the good Knight Weakhart--a part which I imagine you are
especially well fitted to play. Now," she said, "you know the old

"'He either fears his fate too much,
Or his desert is small,
Who fears to put it to the touch,
And win or lose it all.'

"Therefore, I would advise that you--acting the Knight Weakhart, of
course--take the bolder course and propose to Princess Charming to
marry you."

I began to see through her device, and fell on my knees, and grasped
the Princess's hand, and poured forth my love in rapturous words,
that I shall not pretend to repeat, even to you, my dear brother.
When I had paused, for want of breath, Estella said:

"Now I must, I suppose, act the part of Princess Charming, and give
the foolish Knight his answer."

And here she put her arms around my neck--I still kneeling--and
kissed me on the forehead, and said, laughing, but her eyes
glistening with emotion:

"You silly Knight Weakhart, you are well named; and really I prefer
the ogre whose head you were cruel enough to cut off, or even one of
those hideous Vandals you are trying to frighten me with. What kind
of a weak heart or weak head have you, not to know that a woman never
shrinks from dependence upon the man she loves, any more than the ivy
regrets that it is clinging to the oak and cannot stand alone? A true
woman must weave the tendrils of her being around some loved object;
she cannot stand alone any more than the ivy. And so--speaking, of
course, for the Princess Charming!--I accept the heart and hand of
the poor, weak-headed Knight Weakhart."

I folded her in my arms and began to give her all the kisses I had
been hoarding up for her since the first day we met. But she put up
her hand playfully, and pushed me back, and cried out:

"Stop! Stop! the play is over!'

"No! no!" I replied, "it is only beginning; and it will last as long
as we two live."

Her face grew serious in an instant, and she whispered:

"Yes, until death doth us part."



When Max came home the next evening I observed that his face wore a
very joyous expression--it was indeed radiant. He smiled without
cause; he moved as if on air. At the supper table his mother noticed
these significant appearances also, and remarked upon them, smiling.
Max laughed and said:

"Yes, I am very happy; I will tell you something surprising after

When the evening meal was finished we adjourned to the library. Max
closed the doors carefully, and we all sat. down in a group together,
Max holding the withered hand of the gentle old lady in his own, and
Estella and I being near together.

"Now," said Max, "I am about to tell you a long story. It may not be
as interesting to you as it is to me; but you are not to interrupt
me. And, dear mother," he said, turning to her with a loving look,
"you must not feel hurt that I did not make you my confidante, long
ere this, of the events I am about to detail; I did not really know
myself how they were going to end--I never knew until to-day.

"You must understand," he continued, "that, while I have been living
under my own name elsewhere, but in disguise, as I have told you; and
conscious that my actions were the subject of daily espionage, it was
my habit to frequent all the resorts where men congregate in great
numbers, from the highest even to the lowest. I did this upon
principle: not only to throw my enemies off the track as to my real
character, but also because it was necessary to me, in the great work
I had undertaken, that I should sound the whole register of humanity,
down to its bass notes.

"There is, in one of the poorer portions of the city, a great music
hall, or 'variety theater,' as they call it, frequented by multitudes
of the middle and lower orders. It is arranged, indeed, like a huge
theater, but the audience are furnished with beer and pipes, and
little tables, all for an insignificant charge; and there they sit,
amid clouds of smoke, and enjoy the singing, dancing and acting upon
the stage. There are many of these places in the city, and I am
familiar with them all. They are the poor man's club and opera. Of
course, the performers are not of a high order of talent, and
generally not of a high order of morals; but occasionally singers or
actors of real merit and good character begin on these humble boards,
and afterwards rise to great heights in their professions.

"One night I wandered into the place I speak of, took a seat and
called for my clay pipe and pot of beer. I was paying little
attention to the performance on the stage, for it was worn threadbare
with me; but was studying the faces of the crowd around me, when
suddenly I was attracted by the sound of the sweetest voice I ever
heard. I turned to the stage, and there stood a young girl, but
little more than a child, holding her piece of music in her hand, and
singing, to the thrumming accompaniment of a wheezy piano, a sweet
old ballad. The girl was slight of frame and small, not more than
about five feet high. She was timid, for that was her first
appearance, as the play-bills stated; and the hand trembled that held
the music. I did not infer that she had had much training as a
musician; but the voice was the perfection of nature's workmanship;
and the singing was like the airy warbling of children in the happy
unconsciousness of the household, or the gushing music of birds
welcoming the red light of the dawning day while yet the dew and the
silence lie over all nature. A dead quiet had crept over the
astonished house; but at the close of the first stanza a thunderous
burst of applause broke forth that shook the whole building. It was
pleasant to see how the singer brightened into confidence, as a child
might, at the sound; the look of anxiety left the sweet face; the
eyes danced; the yellow curls shook with half-suppressed merriment;
and when the applause had subsided, and the thrumming of the old
piano began again, there was an abandon in the rush of lovely melody
which she poured forth, with delicate instinctive touches, fine
cadences and joyous, bird-like warblings, never dreamed of by the
composer of the old tune. The vast audience was completely carried
away. The voice entered into their slumbering hearts like a
revelation, and walked about in them like a singing spirit in halls
of light. They rose to their feet; hats were flung in the air; a
shower of silver pieces, and even some of gold--a veritable Dana
shower--fell all around the singer, while the shouting and clapping
of hands were deafening. The _debutante_ was a success. The singer
had passed the ordeal. She had entered into the promised land of fame
and wealth. I looked at the programme, as did hundreds of others; it
read simply: _'A Solo by Miss Christina Carlson--first appearance.'_
The name was Scandinavian, and the appearance of the girl confirmed
that supposition. She evidently belonged to the great race of Nilsson
and Lind. Her hair, a mass of rebellious, short curls, was of the
peculiar shade of light yellow common among that people; it looked as
if the xanthous locks of the old Gauls, as described by Csar, had
been faded out, in the long nights and the ice and snow of the
Northland, to this paler hue. But what struck me most, in the midst
of those contaminated surroundings, was the air of innocence and
purity and lightheartedness which shone over every part of her
person, down to her little feet, and out to her very finger tips.
There was not the slightest suggestion of art, or craft, or
double-dealing, or thought within a thought, or even vanity. She was
delighted to think she had passed the dreadful ambuscade of a first
appearance successfully, and that employment--and _bread_--were
assured for the future. That seemed to be the only triumph that
danced in her bright eyes.

"'Who is she?' 'Where did she come from?' were the questions I heard,
in whispers, all around me; for many of the audience were Germans,
Frenchmen and Jews, all passionate lovers of music, and to them the
ushering in of a new star in the artistic firmament is equal to a new
world born before the eyes of an astronomer.

"When she left the stage there was a rush of the privileged artists
for the green-room. I followed them. There I found the little singer
standing by the side of a middle-aged, careworn woman, evidently her
mother, for she was carefully adjusting a poor, thin cloak over the
girl's shoulders, while a swarm of devotees, including many debauched
old gallants, crowded around, pouring forth streams of compliments,
which Christina heard with pleased face and downcast eyes.

"I kept in the background, watching the scene. There was something
about this child that moved me strangely. True, I tried to pooh-pooh
away the sentiment, and said to myself: 'Why bother your head about
her? She is one of the "refuse;" she will go down into the dark ditch
with the rest, baseness to baseness linked.' But when I looked at the
modest, happy face, the whole poise of the body--for every fiber of
the frame of man or woman partakes of the characteristics of the
soul--I could not hold these thoughts steadily in my mind. And I said
to myself: 'If she is as pure as she looks I will watch over her. She
will need a friend in these scenes. Here success is more dangerous
than misery.'

"And so, when Christina and her mother left the theater, I followed
them, but at a respectful distance. They called no carriage, and
there were no cars going their way; but they trudged along, and I
followed them; a weary distance it was--through narrow and dirty
streets and back alleys--until at last they stopped at the door of a
miserable tenement-house. They entered, and like a shadow I crept
noiselessly behind them. Up, up they went; floor after floor, until
the topmost garret was reached. Christina gave a glad shout; a door
flew open; she entered a room that seemed to be bursting with
children; and I could hear the broader voice of a man, mingled with
ejaculations of childish delight, as Christina threw down her gifts
of gold and silver on the table, and told in tones of girlish ecstasy
of her great triumph, calling ever and anon upon her mother to vouch
for the truth of her wonderful story. And then I had but time to
shrink back into a corner, when a stout, broad-shouldered man,
dressed like a workingman, rushed headlong down the stairs, with a
large basket in his hand, to the nearest eating-house; and he soon
returned bearing cooked meats and bread and butter, and bottles of
beer, and pastry, the whole heaped up and running over the sides of
the basket. And oh, what a tumult of joy there was in that room! I
stood close to the closed door and listened. There was the
hurry-scurry of many feet, little and big, as they set the table; the
quick commands; the clatter of plates and knives and forks; the
constant chatter; the sounds of helping each other and of eating; and
then Christina, her mouth, it seemed to me, partly filled with bread
and butter, began to give her father some specimens of the cadenzas
that had brought down the house; and the little folks clapped their
hands with delight, and the mother thanked God fervently that their
poverty and their sufferings were at an end.

"I felt like a guilty thing, standing there, sharing in the happiness
to which I had not been invited; and at last I stole down the stairs,
and into the street. I need not say that all this had vastly
increased my interest in the pretty singer. This picture of poverty
associated with genius, and abundant love shining over all, was very

"The next day I set a detective agency to work to find out all they
could about the girl and her family. One of their men called upon me
that evening, with a report. He had visited the place and made
inquiries of the neighbors, of the shop-keepers, the police, etc.,
and this is what he had found out:

"There was no person in the building of the name of 'Carson,' but in
the garret I had described a man resided named 'Carl Jansen,' a Swede
by birth, a blacksmith by trade, and a very honest, worthy man and
good workman, but excessively poor. He had lived for some years in
New York; he had a large family of children; his wife took in
washing, and thus helped to fill the many greedy little mouths; the
oldest girl was named Christina; she was seventeen years of age; she
had attended the public schools, and of late years had worked at
embroidery, her earnings going into the common stock. She was a good,
amiable girl, and highly spoken of by every one who knew her. She had
attended Sunday school, and there it had been discovered that she
possessed a remarkably fine voice, and she had been placed in the
choir; and, after a time, at the suggestion of some of the teachers,
her mother had taken her to the manager of the variety hall, who was
so pleased with her singing that he gave her a chance to appear on
the boards of his theater. She had made her _dbut_ last night, and
the whole tenement-house, and, in fact, the whole alley and
neighboring streets, were talking that morning of her great success;
and, strange to say, they all rejoiced in the brightening fortunes of
the poor family.

"'Then,' I said to myself, 'Carlson was merely a stage name, probably
suggested by the manager of the variety show.'

"I determined to find out more about the pretty Christina."



"You may be sure that that night the public took the variety theater
by storm; every seat was filled; the very aisles were crowded with
men standing; the beer flowed in streams and the tobacco-smoke rose
in clouds; the establishment was doing a splendid business. Christina
was down on the bills for three solos. Each one was a triumph--encore
followed encore--and when the performance closed the little singer
was called before the curtain and another Dana shower of silver and
gold, and some bouquets, fell around her. When I went behind the
scenes I found the happy girl surrounded by even a larger circle of
admirers than the night before, each one sounding her praises. I
called the manager aside. He knew me well as a rich young
spendthrift. I said to him:

"'How much a week do you pay Christina?'

"'I promised her,' said he, 'five dollars a week; but,' and here he
looked at me suspiciously, 'I have determined to double it. I shall
pay her ten.'

"'That is not enough,' I said; 'you will find in her a gold mine. You
must pay her fifty.'

"'My dear sir,' he said, 'I cannot afford it. I really cannot.'

"'Well,' said 'I will speak to Jobson [a rival in business]; he will
pay her a hundred. I saw him here to-night. He has already heard of

"'But,' said he, 'she has contracted with me to sing for three
months, at five dollars per week; and I have permitted her to take
home all the money that was thrown on the stage last night and
to-night. Now I shall pay her ten. Is not that liberal?'

"'Liberal!' I said; 'it is hoggish. This girl has made you two
hundred dollars extra profit to-night. She is under age. She cannot
make a binding contract. And the money that was thrown to her belongs
to her and not to you. Come, what do you say--shall I speak to

"'What interest have you in this girl?' he asked, sullenly.

"'That is no matter of yours,' I replied; 'if you will not pay her
what I demand, to-morrow night she will sing for Jobson, and your
place will be empty.'

"'Well,' said he, 'I will pay it; but I don't see what right you have
to interfere in my business.'

"'That is not all,' I said; 'go to her now and tell her you have made
a good deal of money to-night, by her help, and ask her to accept
fifty dollars from you as a present; and tell her, in my hearing,
that she is to receive fifty dollars a week hereafter. The family are
very poor, and need immediate help. And besides, if she does not know
that she is to receive a liberal salary, when the agents of the other
houses come for her, she may leave you. Fair play is the wisest

"He thought a moment; he was very angry with me; but finally he
swallowed his wrath, and pushed his way through the crowd to where
Christina stood, and said to her with many a bow and smile:

"'Miss Christina, your charming voice has greatly increased my
business to-night; and I think it only fair to give you a part of my
profits--here are fifty dollars.'

"Christina was delighted--she took the money--she had never seen so
large an amount before--she handed it to her mother; and both were
profuse in their thanks, while the crowd vigorously applauded the
good and generous manager.

"'But this is not all,' he continued; 'instead of five dollars per
week, the sum we had agreed upon, for your singing, I shall pay you
hereafter fifty dollars a week!'

"There was still greater applause; Christina's eyes swam with
happiness; her mother began to cry; Christina seized the manager's
hand, and the old scamp posed, as he received the thanks of those
present, as if all this were the outcome of his own generosity, and
as if he were indeed the best and noblest of men. I have no doubt
that if I had not interfered he would have kept her on the five
dollars a week, and the silly little soul would have been satisfied.

"I followed them home. I again listened to their happiness. And then
I heard the mother tell the father that they must both go out
to-morrow and find a better place to lodge in, for they were rich
now. A bright thought flashed across my mind, and I hastened away.

"The next morning, at daybreak, I hurried to the same detective I had
employed the day before; he was a shrewd, but not unkindly fellow. I
explained to him my plans, and we went out together. We took a
carriage and drove rapidly from place to place; he really seemed
pleased to find himself engaged, for once in his life, in a good
action. What I did will be revealed as I go on with this story.

"At half past eight o'clock that morning the Jansen family had
finished their breakfast and talked over and over again, for the
twentieth time, their wonderful turn of fortune, and all its
incidents, including repeated counting of their marvelous hoard of
money. Then Christina was left in charge of the children, and the
father and mother sallied forth to look for a new residence. The
neighbors crowded around to congratulate them; and they
explained,--for, kindly-hearted souls, they did not wish their old
companions in poverty to think that they had willingly fled from
them, at the first approach of good fortune,--they explained that
they must get a new home nearer to the theater, for Christina's sake;
and that they proposed that she should have teachers in music and
singing and acting; for she was now the bread-winner of the family,
and they hoped that some day she would shine in opera with the great

"Did the neighbors know of any place, suitable for them, which they
could rent?

"No, they did not; they rarely passed out of their own poor

"But here a plainly dressed man, who looked like a workman, and who
had been listening to the conversation, spoke up and said that he had
observed, only that morning, a bill of 'To Rent' upon a very neat
little house, only a few blocks from the theater; and, as he was
going that way, he would be glad to show them the place. They thanked
him; and, explaining to him that the business of renting houses was
something new to them, for heretofore they had lived in one or two
rooms--they might have added, very near the roof--they walked off
with the stranger. He led them into a pleasant, quiet, respectable
neighborhood, and at last stopped before a small, neat three-story
house, with a little garden in front and another larger one in the

"'What a pretty place!' said the mother; 'but I fear the rent will be
too high for us.'

"'Well, there is no harm in inquiring,' said the workman, and he rang
the bell.

"A young man, dressed like a mechanic, answered the summons. He
invited them in; the house was comfortably, but not richly furnished.
They went through it and into the garden; they were delighted with
everything. And then came the question they feared to ask: What was
the rent?

"'Well,' said the young man, pleasantly, I must explain my position.
I am a printer by trade. My name is Francis Montgomery. I own this
house. It was left to me by my parents. It is all I have. I am not
married. I cannot live in it alone; it is too big for that; and,
besides, I think I should get some income out of it, for there are
the taxes to be paid. But I do not want to leave the house. I was
born and raised here. I thought that if I could get some pleasant
family to take it, who would let me retain one of the upper rooms,
and would board me, I would rent the house for'--here he mentioned a
ridiculously low price. 'I do not want,' he added, 'any expensive
fare. I am content to take "pot-luck" with the family. I like your
looks; and if you want the house, at the terms I have named, I think
we can get along pleasantly together. I may not be here all the time.'

"The offer was accepted; the workman was dismissed with thanks. That
afternoon the whole family moved in. The delight of Christina was
unbounded. There was one room which I had forseen would be assigned
to her, and that I had adorned with some flowers. She was introduced
to me; we shook hands; and I was soon a member of the family. What a
curious flock of little white-heads, of all ages, they were--sturdy,
rosy, chubby, healthy, merry, and loving toward one another. They
brought very little of their poor furniture with them; it was too
shabby for the new surroundings; they gave it away to their former
neighbors. But I noticed that the father carefully carried into the
kitchen an old chair, time-worn and venerable; the back was gone, and
it was nothing but a stool. The next day I observed a pudgy little
boy, not quite three years old (the father's favorite, as I
discovered), driving wrought nails into it with a little iron hammer.

"'Stop! stop! my man!' I exclaimed; 'you must not drive nails in the

"I looked at the chair: the seat of it was a mass of nailholes. And
then Christina, noticing my looks of perplexity, said:

"'Last Christmas we were very, very poor. Papa was out of work. We
could scarcely get enough to eat. Papa saw the preparations in the
store windows for Christmas--the great heaps of presents; and he saw
the busy parents hurrying about buying gifts for their children, and
he felt very sad that he could not give us any presents, not even to
little Ole, whom he loves so much. So he went into the blacksmith
shop of a friend, and, taking up a piece of iron that had been thrown
on the floor, he made that little hammer Ole has in his hand, and a
number of wrought nails; and he brought them home and showed Ole how
to use the hammer and drive the nails into the chair; and when he had
driven them all into the wood, papa would pry them out for him, and
the work would commence all over again, and Ole was happy all day

"I found my eyes growing damp; for I was thinking of the riotous
profusion of the rich, and of the costly toys they heap upon their
children; and the contrast of this poor man, unable to buy a single
cheap toy for his family, and giving his chubby boy a rude iron
hammer and nails, to pound into that poor stool, as a substitute for
doll or rocking-horse, was very touching. And then I looked with some
wonder at the straightforward honesty of the little maid, who, in the
midst of the new, fine house, was not ashamed to talk so frankly of
the dismal wretchedness and want which a few days before had been the
lot of the family. She saw nothing to be ashamed of in poverty; while
by meaner and more sordid souls it is regarded as the very abasement
of shame and crime.

"Ole was pounding away at his nails.

"'Does he not hurt himself sometimes?' I asked.

"'Oh yes, she said, laughing; 'at first he would hit his little
fingers many a hard rap; and he would start to cry, but papa would
tell him that "_men_ never cry;--and then it was funny to see how he
would purse up his little red mouth, while the tears of pain ran down
from his big round eyes, but not a sound more would escape him.'

"And I said to myself: 'This is the stuff of which was formed the
masterful race that overran the world under the names of a dozen
different peoples. Ice and snow made the tough fiber, mental and
physical, which the hot sun of southern climes afterward melted into
the viciousness of more luxurious nations. Man is scourged into
greatness by adversity, and leveled into mediocrity by prosperity.
This little fellow, whose groans die between his set teeth, has in
him the blood of the Vikings.'

"There was one thing I did out of policy, which yet went very much
against my inclinations, in dealing with such good and honest people.
I knew that in all probability I had been traced by the spies of the
Oligarchy to this house; they would regard it of course as a crazy
adventure, and would naturally assign it to base purposes. But it
would not do for me to appear altogether different, even in this
family, from the character I had given myself out to be, of a
reckless and dissipated man; for the agents of my enemies might talk
to the servant, or to members of the household. And so the second
night I came home to supper apparently drunk. It was curious to see
the looks of wonder, sorrow and sympathy exchanged between the
members of the family as I talked ramblingly and incoherently at the
table. But this feint served one purpose; it broke down the barrier
between landlord and tenants. Indeed, paradoxical as it may seem, I
think they thought more of me because of my supposed infirmity; for
'pity is akin to love;' and it is hard for the tenderer feelings of
the heart to twine about one who is so strong and flawless that he
demands no sympathy or forbearance at our hands. I ceased to be the
rich owner of a house--I was simply one of themselves; a foolish
journeyman printer; given to drink, but withal a kindly and pleasant
man. Two days afterwards, Christina, who had looked at me several
times with a troubled brow, took me aside and tried to persuade me to
join a temperance society of which her father was a member. It was
very pretty and touching to see the motherly way in which the little
woman took my hand, and coaxed me to give up my vice, and told me,
with eloquent earnestness, all the terrible consequences which would
flow from it. I was riot foolish enough to think that any tender
sentiment influenced her. It was simply her natural goodness, and her
pity for a poor fellow, almost now one of their own family, who was
going to destruction. And indeed, if I had been a veritable drunkard,
she would have turned me from my evil courses. But I assured her that
I would try to reform; that I would drink less than previously, and
that, on the next New Year's day, I might be able to summon up
courage enough to go with her father to his society, and pledge
myself to total abstinence. She received these promises with many
expressions of pleasure; and, although I had to keep up my false
character, I never afterwards wounded her feelings by appearing
anything more than simply elevated in spirit by drink.

"They were a very kind, gentle, good people; quite unchanged by
prosperity and unaffected in their manners. Even in their poverty the
children had all looked clean and neat; now they were prettily, but
not expensively, dressed. Their religious devotion was great; and I
endeared myself to them by sometimes joining in their household
prayers. And I said to myself: If there is no God--as the miserable
philosophers tell us--there surely ought to be one, if for nothing
else than to listen to the supplications of these loving and grateful
hearts. And I could not believe that such tender devotions could
ascend and be lost forever in empty and unresponsive space. The
impulse of prayer, it seems to me, presupposes a God."



"But a cloud was moving up to cover the fair face of this pleasant
prospect; and yet the sun was shining and the birds singing.

"Christina was very busy during the day with her teachers. She loved
music and was anxious to excel. She had her lessons on the piano; she
improved her mind by a judicious course of reading, in which I helped
her somewhat; she went twice a week to a grand Italian maestro, who
perfected her in her singing. And she took long walks to the poor
neighborhood where she had formerly lived, to visit the sick and
wretched among her old acquaintances, and she never left them

"At the theater she grew more and more popular. Even the rudest of
the audience recognized instinctively in her the goodness which they
themselves lacked. Every song was an ovation. Her praises began to
resound in the newspapers; and she had already received advances from
the manager of one of the grand opera-houses. A bright future opened
before her--a vista of light and music and wealth and delight.

"She did not escape, however, the unpleasant incidents natural to
such a career. Her mother accompanied her to every performance, and
was, in so far, a shield to her; but she was beset with visitors at
the house; she was annoyed by men who stopped and claimed
acquaintance with her on the streets; she received many gifts,
flowers, fruit, jewelry, and all the other tempting sweet nothings
which it is thought bewitch the heart of frail woman. But they had no
effect upon her. Only goodness seemed to cling to her, and evil fell
far off from her. You may set two plants side by side in the same
soil--one will draw only bitterness and poison from the earth; while
the other will gather, from the same nurture, nothing but sweetness
and perfume.

'For virtue, as it never will be moved,
Though lewdness court it in a shape of heaven;
So lust, though to a radiant angel linked,
Will sate itself in a celestial bed,
And prey on garbage."

"Among the men who pestered Christina with their attentions was a
young fellow named Nathan Brederhagan, the son of a rich widow. He
was one of those weak and shallow brains to whom wealth becomes only
a vehicle in which to ride to destruction. He was in reality all that
I pretended to be--a reckless, drunken, useless spendthrift, with no
higher aim in life than wine and woman. He spent his days in vanity
and his nights in debauchery. Across the clouded portal of this
fool's brain came, like a vision, the beautiful, gentle, gifted
Christina. She was a new toy, the most charming he had ever seen,
and, like a child, he must possess it. And so he began a series of
persecutions. He followed her everywhere; he fastened himself upon
her at the theater; he showered all sorts of gifts on her; and, when
he found she returned his presents, and that she refused or resisted
all his advances, he grew so desperate that he at last offered to
marry her, although with a consciousness that he was making a most
heroic and extraordinary sacrifice of himself in doing so. But even
this condescension--to his unbounded astonishment--she declined with
thanks. And then the silly little fool grew more desperate than ever,
and battered up his poor brains with strong drink, and wept in
maudlin fashion to his acquaintances. At last one of these--a fellow
of the same kidney, but with more enterprise than himself--said to
him: 'Why don't you carry her off?' Nathan opened his eyes very wide,
stopped his sniffling and blubbering, and made up his mind to follow
this sage advice. To obtain the necessary nerve for such a prodigious
undertaking he fired up with still more whisky; and when the night
came he was crazy with drink. Obtaining a carriage and another
drunken fool to help him, he stationed himself beside the pavement,
in the quiet street where Christina lived, and but a few doors
distant from her house; and then, as she came along with her mother,
he seized upon her, while his companion grasped Mrs. Jansen. He began
to drag Christina toward the carriage; but the young girl was
stronger than he was, and not only resisted him, but began to shriek,
ably seconded by her mother, until the street rang. The door of their
house flew open, and Mr. Jansen, who had recognized the voices of his
wife and daughter, was hurrying to their rescue; whereupon the little
villain cried in a tone of high tragedy, 'Then die!' and stabbed her
in the throat with a little dagger he carried. He turned and sprang
into the carriage; while the poor girl, who had become suddenly
silent, staggered and fell into the arms of her father.

"It chanced that I was absent from the house that night, on some
business of the Brotherhood, and the next morning I breakfasted in
another part of the city, at a restaurant. I had scarcely begun my
meal when a phonograph, which, in a loud voice, was proclaiming the
news of the day before for the entertainment of the guests, cried out:


Last night, at about half-past eleven, on Seward Street,
near Fifty-first Avenue, a young girl was assaulted and
brutally stabbed in the throat by one of two men. The girl
is a singer employed in Peter Bingham's variety theater, a
few blocks distant from the place of the attack. She was
accompanied by her mother, and they were returning on foot
from the theater, where she had been singing. The man had a
carriage ready, and while one of them held her mother, the
other tried to force the young girl into the

carriage; it was plainly the purpose of the men to abduct
her. She resisted, however; whereupon the ruffian who had
hold of her, hearing the footsteps of persons approaching,
and seeing that he could not carry her off, drew a knife
and stabbed her in the throat, and escaped with his
companion in the carriage. The girl was carried into her
father's house, No. 1252 Seward Street, and the
distinguished surgeon, Dr. Hemnip, was sent for. He
pronounced the wound probably fatal. The young girl is
named Christina Jansen; she sings under the stage-name of
Christina Carlson, and is the daughter of Carl Jansen,
living at the place named. Inquiry at the theater showed
her to be a girl of good character, very much esteemed by
her acquaintances, and greatly admired as a very brilliant

LATER.--A young man named Nathan Brederhagan, belonging to
a wealthy and respectable family, and residing with his
mother at No. 637 Sherman Street, was arrested this morning
at one o'clock, in his bed, by police officer No. 18,333,
on information furnished by the family of the unfortunate
girl. A bloody dagger was found in his pocket. As the girl
is likely to die he was committed to jail and bail refused.
He is represented to be a dissipated, reckless young
fellow, and it seems was in love with the girl, and sought
her hand in marriage; and she refused him; whereupon, in
his rage, he attempted to take her life. His terrible deed
has plunged a large circle of relatives and friends into
great shame and sorrow.

"I had started to my feet as soon as I heard the words, 'The girl is
a singer in Peter Bingham's Variety Theater,' but, when her name was
mentioned and her probable death, the pangs that shot through me no
words of mine can describe.

"It is customary with us all to think that our intellect is our self,
and that we are only what we think; but there are in the depths of
our nature feelings, emotions, qualities of the soul, with which the
mere intelligence has nothing to do; and which, when they rise up,
like an enraged elephant from the jungle, scatter all the
conventionalities of our training, and all the smooth and
automaton-like operations of our minds to the winds. As I stood
there, listening to the dead-level, unimpassioned, mechanical voice
of the phonograph, pouring forth those deadly sentences, I realized
for the first time what the sunny-haired little songstress was to me.

"'Wounded! Dead!'

"I seized my hat, and, to the astonishment of the waiters, I rushed
out. I called a hack. I had to alter my appearance. I grudged the
time necessary for this very necessary precaution, but, paying the
driver double fare, I went, as fast as his horses' legs could carry
me, to the place, in a saloon kept by one of the Brotherhood, where I
was in the habit of changing my disguises. I dismissed the hack,
hurried to my room, and in a few minutes I was again flying along, in
another hack, to 1252 Seward Street. I rushed up the steps. Her
mother met me in the hall. She was crying.

"'Is she alive?' I asked.

"'Yes, yes,' she replied.

"'What does the doctor say?' I inquired.

"'He says she will not die--but her voice is gone forever,' she

"Her tears burst forth afresh. I was shocked--inexpressibly shocked.
True, it was joy to know she would live; but to think of that noble
instrument of grace and joy and melody silenced forever! It was like
the funeral of an angel! God, in the infinite diversity of his
creation, makes so few such voices--so few such marvelous adjustments
of those vibrating chords to the capabilities of the air and the
human sense and the infinite human soul that dwells behind the
sense--and all to be the spoil of a ruffian's knife. Oh! if I could
have laid my hands on the little villain! I should have butchered him
with his own dagger--sanctified, as it was, with her precious blood.
The infamous little scoundrel! To think that such a vicious, shallow,
drunken brute could have power to 'break into the bloody house of
life' and bring to naught such a precious and unparalleled gift of
God. I had to clutch the railing of the stairs to keep from falling.
Fortunately for me, poor Mrs. Jansen was too much absorbed in her own
sorrows to notice mine. She grieved deeply and sincerely for her
daughter's sufferings and the loss of her voice; but, worse than all,
there rose before her- the future! She looked with dilated eyes into
that dreadful vista. She saw again the hard, grinding, sordid poverty
from which they had but a little time before escaped-she saw again
her husband bent down with care, and she heard her children crying
once more for bread. I read the poor woman's thoughts. It was not
selfishness--it was love for those dear to her; and I took her hand,
and--scarcely knowing what I said--I told her she must not worry,
that she and her family should never suffer want again. She looked at
me in surprise, and thanked me, and said I was always good and kind.

"In a little while she took me to Christina's room. The poor girl was
under the influence of morphine and sleeping a troubled sleep. Her
face was very pale from loss of blood; and her head and neck were all
bound up in white bandages, here and there stained with the ghastly
fluid that flowed from her wounds. It was a pitiable sight: her
short, crisp yellow curls broke here and there, rebelliously, through
the folds of the linen bandages; and I thought how she used to shake
them, responsive to the quiverings of the cadenzas and trills that
poured from her bird-like throat. 'Alas!' I said to myself, 'poor
throat! you will never sing again! Poor little curls, you will never
tremble again in sympathy with the dancing delight of that happy
voice.' A dead voice! Oh! it is one of the saddest things in the
world! I went to the window to hide the unmanly tears which streamed
down my face.

"When she woke she seemed pleased to see me near her, and extended
her hand to me with a little smile. The doctor had told her she must
not attempt to speak. I held her hand for awhile, and told how
grieved I was over her misfortune. And then I told her I would bring
her a tablet and pencil, so that she might communicate her wants to
us; and then I said to her that I was out of a job at my trade (I
know that the angels in heaven do not record such lies), and that I
had nothing to do, and could stay and wait upon her; for the other
children were too small, and her mother too busy to be with her all
the time, and her father and I could divide the time between us. She
smiled again and thanked me with her eyes.

"And I was very busy and almost happy--moving around that room on
tiptoe in my slippers while she slept, or talking to her in a bright
and chatty way, about everything that I thought would interest her,
or bringing her flowers, or feeding her the liquid food which alone
she could swallow.

"The doctor came every day. I questioned him closely. He was an
intelligent man, and had, I could see, taken quite a liking to his
little patient. He told me that the knife had just missed, by a
hair's breadth, the carotid artery, but unfortunately it had struck
the cervical plexus, that important nerve-plexus, situated in the
side of the neck; and had cut the recurrent laryngeal nerve, which
arises from the cervical plexus and supplies the muscles of the
larynx; and it had thereby caused instant paralysis of those muscles,
and aphonia, or loss of voice. I asked him if she would ever be able
to sing again. He said it was not certain. If the severed ends of the
nerve reunited fully her voice might return with all its former
power. He hoped for the best.

"One morning, I was called down stairs by Mrs. Jansen; it was three
or four days after the assault had been made on Christina. There I
found the chief of police of that department. He said it had become
necessary, in the course of the legal proceedings, that Brederhagan
should be identified by Christina as her assailant. The doctor had
reported that there was now no danger of her death; and the family of
the little rascal desired to get him out on bail. I told him I would
confer with the physician, when he called, as to whether Christina
could stand the excitement of such an interview, and I would notify
him. He thanked me and took his leave. That day I spoke upon the
subject to Dr. Hemnip, and he thought that Christina had so far
recovered her strength that she might see the prisoner the day after
the next. At the same time he cautioned her not to become nervous or
excited, and not to attempt to speak. She was simply to write 'Yes'
on her tablet, in answer to the question asked her by the police. The
interview was to be as brief as possible. I communicated with the
chief of police, as I had promised, giving him these details, and
fixed an hour for him to call."



"The next day, about ten in the morning, I went out to procure some
medicine for Christina. I was gone but a few minutes, and on my
return, as I mounted the stairs, I was surprised to hear a strange
voice in the sick-room. I entered and was introduced by Mrs. Jansen
to 'Mrs. Brederhagan,' the rich widow, the mother of the little
wretch who had assaulted Christina. She was a large, florid woman,
extravagantly dressed, with one of those shallow, unsympathetic
voices which betoken a small and flippant soul. Her lawyers had told
her that Nathan would probably be sent to prison for a term of years;
and so she had come to see if she could not beg his victim to spare
him. She played her part well. She got down on her knees by the
bedside in all her silks and furbelows, and seized Christina's hand
and wept; and told of her own desolate state as a widow--drawing,
incidentally, a picture of the virtues of her deceased husband, which
he himself--good man--would not have recognized in this world or any
other. And then she descanted on the kind heart of her poor boy, and
how he had been led off by bad company, etc., etc. Christina listened
with an intent look to all this story; but she flushed when the widow
proceeded to say how deeply her son loved her, Christina, and that it
was his love for her that had caused him to commit his desperate act;
and she actually said that, although Christina was but a poor singer,
with no blood worth speaking of, in comparison with her own
illustrious long line of nobodies, yet she brought Christina an offer
from her son--sanctioned by her own approval--that he would--if she
would spare him from imprisonment and his family from disgrace--marry
her outright and off-hand; and that she would, as a magnanimous and
generous, upper-crust woman, welcome her, despite all her
disadvantages and drawbacks, to her bosom as a daughter! All this she
told with a great many tears and ejaculations, all the time clinging
to Christina's hand.

"When she had finished and risen, and readjusted her disarranged
flounces, Christina took her tablet and wrote:

"I could not marry your son. As to the rest, I will think it over.
Please do not come again.'

"The widow would have gotten down on her knees and gone at it again;
but I took her aside and said to her:

'Do you not see that this poor girl is very weak, and your appeals
distress her? Go home and I will communicate with you.'

"And I took her by the arm, and firmly but respectfully led her out
of the room, furbelows, gold chains and all. She did not feel at all
satisfied with the success of her mission; but I saw her into her
carriage and told the driver to take her home. I was indignant. I
felt that the whole thing was an attempt to play upon the sympathies
of my poor little patient, and that the woman was a hollow, heartless
old fraud.

"The next day, at the appointed hour, the chief of police came,
accompanied by the prisoner. The latter had had no liquor for several
days and was collapsed enough. All his courage and vanity had oozed
out of him. He was a dilapidated wreck. He knew that the penitentiary
yawned for him, and he felt his condition as deeply as such a shallow
nature could feel anything. I scowled at the wretch in a way which
alarmed him for his personal safety, and he trembled and hurried
behind the policeman.

"Christina had been given a strengthening drink. The doctor was there
with his finger on her pulse; she was raised up on some pillows. Her
father and mother were present. When we entered she looked for an
instant at the miserable, dejected little creature, and I saw a
shudder run through her frame, and then she closed her eyes.

"'Miss Jansen,' said the chief of police, 'be kind enough to say
whether or not this is the man who tried to kill you.'

"I handed her the tablet and pencil. She wrote a few words. I handed
it to the chief.

"'What does this mean?' he said, in evident astonishment.

"I took the tablet out of his hand, and was thunderstruck to find on
it these unexpected words:

"_'This is not the man.'_

"'Then,' said the chief of Police, 'there is nothing more to do than
to discharge the prisoner.'

"Her father and mother stepped forward; but she waved them back with
her hand; and the chief led the culprit out, too much stunned to yet
realize that he was free.

"'What does this mean, Christina?' I asked, in a tone that expressed
indignation, if not anger.

"She took her tablet and wrote:

"'What good would it do to send that poor, foolish boy to prison for
many years? He was drunk or he would not have hurt me. It will do no
good to bring disgrace on a respectable family. This great lesson may
reform him and make him a good man.'

"At that moment I made up my mind to make Christina my wife, if she
would have me. Such a soul was worth a mountain of rubies. There are
only a few of them in each generation, and fortunate beyond
expression is the man who can call one of them his own!

"But I was not going to see my poor love, or her family, imposed on
by that scheming old widow. I hurried out of the house; I called a
hack, and drove to Mrs. Brederhagan's house. I found her and her son
in the first paroxysm of joy--locked in each other's arms.

"'Mrs. Brederhagan,' I said, 'your vicious little devil of a son here
has escaped punishment so far for his cruel and cowardly assault upon
a poor girl. He has escaped through her unexampled magnanimity and
generosity. But do you know what he has done to her? He has silenced
her exquisite voice forever. He has ruthlessly destroyed that which a
million like him could not create. That poor girl will never sing
again. She was the sole support of her family. This imp here has
taken the bread out of their mouths--they will starve. You owe it to
her to make a deed of gift whereby you will endow her with the amount
she was earning when your son's dagger pierced her poor throat and
silenced her voice; that is--fifty dollars a week.'

"The widow ruffled up her feathers, and said she did not see why she
should give Christina fifty dollars a week. She had declared that her
son was not the one who had assaulted her, and he was a free man, and
that was the end of their connection with the matter.

"'Ha! ha!' said I, 'and so, that is your position? Now you will send
at once for a notary and do as I tell you, or in one hour your son
shall be arrested again. _Christina's mother knows him perfectly
well, and will identify him_; and Christina herself will not swear in
court to the generous falsehood she told to screen you and yours from
disgrace. You are a worthy mother of such a son, when you cannot
appreciate one of the noblest acts ever performed in this world.'

"The widow grew pale at these threats; and after she and her hopeful
son--who was in a great fright--had whispered together, she
reluctantly agreed to my terms. A notary was sent for, and the deed
drawn and executed, and a check given, at my demand, for the first
month's payment.

"'Now,' said I, turning to Master Nathan, 'permit me to say one word
to you, young man. If you ever again approach, or speak to, or molest
in any way, Miss Christina Carlson, I will,'-and here I drew close to
him and put my finger on his breast,--'I will kill you like a dog.'

"With this parting shot I left the happy pair."



"I need not describe the joy there was in the Jansen family when I
brought home Mrs. Brederhagan's deed of gift and the money. Christina
did not yet know that her voice was destroyed, and hence was disposed
to refuse what she called 'the good lady's great generosity.' But we
reminded her that the widow was rich, and that her son had inflicted
great and painful wounds upon her, which had caused her weeks of
weary sickness, to say nothing of the doctor's bills and the other
expenses they had been subjected to; and so, at last, she consented
and agreed that, for the present at least, she would receive the
widow's money, but only until she could resume her place on the
boards of the theater. But the deed of gift drove the brooding
shadows out of the heart and eyes of poor Mrs. Jansen.

"I need not tell you all the details of Christina's recovery. Day by
day she grew stronger. She began to speak in whispers, and gradually
she recovered her power of speech, although the voice at first
sounded husky. She was soon able to move about the house, for youth
and youthful spirits are great medicines. One day she placed her hand
on mine and thanked me for all my great kindness to her; and said, in
her arch way, that I was a good, kindhearted friend, and it was a
pity I had any weaknesses; and that I must not forget my promise to
her about the next New Year's day. But she feared that I had
neglected my business to look after her.

"At length she learned from the doctor that she could never sing
again; that her throat was paralyzed. It was a bitter grief to her,
and she wept quietly for some hours. And then she comforted herself
with the reflection that the provision made for her by Mrs.
Brederhagan had placed herself and her family beyond the reach of
poverty. But for this I think she would have broken her heart.

"I had been cogitating for some days upon a new idea. It seemed to me
that these plain, good people would be much happier in the country
than in the city; and, besides, their income would go farther. They
had country blood in their veins, and it takes several generations to
get the scent of the flowers out of the instincts of a family; they
have subtle promptings in them to walk in the grass and behold the
grazing kine. And a city, after all, is only fit for temporary
purposes--to see the play and the shops and the mob--and wear one's
life out in nothingnesses. As one of the poets says:

"'Thus is it in the world-hive; most where men
Lie deep in cities as in drifts--death drifts--
Nosing each other like a flock of sheep;
Not knowing and not caring whence nor whither
They come or go, so that they fool together."

"And then I thought, too, that Mr. Jansen was unhappy in idleness. He
was a great, strong man, and accustomed all his life to hard work,
and his muscles cried out for exercise.

"So I started out and made little excursions in all directions. At
last I found the very place I had been looking for. It was about
twelve miles beyond the built-up portions of the suburbs, in a high
and airy neighborhood, and contained about ten acres of land. There
was a little grove, a field, a garden, and an old-fashioned, roomy
house. The house needed some repairs, it is true; but beyond the
grove two roads crossed each other, and at the angle would be an
admirable place for a blacksmith shop. I purchased the whole thing
very cheaply. Then I set carpenters to work to repair the house and
build a blacksmith shop. The former I equipped with furniture, and
the latter with anvil, bellows and other tools, and a supply of coal
and iron.

"When everything was ready I told Christina another of my white lies.
I said to her that Mrs. Brederhagan, learning that her voice was
ruined forever by her son's dagger, had felt impelled, by her
conscience and sense of right, to make her a present of a little
place in the country, and had deputed me to look after the matter for
her, and that I had bought the very place that I thought would suit

"And so we all started out to view the premises. It would be hard to
say who was most delighted, Christina or her mother or her father;
but I am inclined to think the latter took more pure happiness in his
well-equipped little shop, with the big sign, 'CARL JANSEN,
BLACKSMITH,' and the picture of a man shoeing a horse, than Christina
did in the flowerbed, or her mother in the comfortable household

"Soon after the whole family moved out. I was right. A race that has
lived for several generations in the country is an exotic in a city."



"I used to run out every other day, and I was as welcome as if I had
been really a member of the family. The day before yesterday I found
the whole household in a state of joyous excitement. Christina had
been enjoined to put the baby to sleep; and while rocking it in its
cradle she had, all unconsciously, begun to sing a little nursery
song. Suddenly she sprang to her feet, and, running to her mother,
cried out:

"'Oh, mother! I can sing! Listen.'

"She found, however, that the voice was still quite weak, and that if
she tried to touch any of the higher notes there was a pain in her

"I advised her to forbear singing for some time, and permit the
organs of the voice to resume their natural condition. It might be
that the doctor was wrong in his prognosis of her case; or it might
be that the injured nerve, as he had said was possible, had resumed
its function, through the curative power of nature. But it was a
great delight to us all, and especially to the poor girl herself, to
think that her grand voice might yet be restored to her.

"To-day I went out again.

"I thought that Mr. Jansen met me with a constrained manner; and when
Mrs. Jansen saw me, instead of welcoming me with a cordial smile, as
was usual with her, she retreated into the house. And when I went
into the parlor, Christina's manner was still more embarrassing. She
blushed as she extended her hand to me, and seemed very much
confused; and yet her manner was not unkind or unfriendly. I could
not understand it.

"'What is the matter, Christina?' I asked.

"The little woman was incapable of double-dealing, and so she said:

"'You know it came into my head lately, very often, that Mrs.
Brederhagan had been exceedingly, I might say extraordinarily, kind
to me. It is true her son had done me a great injury, and might have
killed me; and I refused to testify against him. But she had not only
given me that deed of gift you brought me, but she had also presented
papa with this charming home. And so I said to myself that she must
think me very rude and ungrateful, since I had never called upon her
to thank her in person. And so, knowing that Nathan had been sent to
Europe, I made up my mind, yesterday, that I would go into town, and
call upon Mrs. Brederhagan, and thank her for all her kindness.

"'I took a hack to her house from the station, and sent up my card.
She received me quite kindly. After a few inquiries and commonplaces
I thanked her as I had intended doing. She smiled and made light of
it; then I spoke of the house and the garden, and the blacksmith
shop, and how grateful we all were to her.

"'"Why," said she, "what on earth are you talking about? I never gave
you a house, or a garden, or a blacksmith shop."

"'You may imagine my surprise.

"'"Why," said I, "did you not give Mr. Frank Montgomery the money to
purchase it, and tell him to have the deed made out to my father?"

"'"My dear," said she, "you bewilder me; I never in all my life heard
of such a person as Mr. Frank Montgomery; and I certainly never gave
him any money to buy a house for anybody."

"'"Why," said I, "do you pretend you do not know Mr. Frank
Montgomery, who brought me your deed of gift?"

"That," she said, "was not Mr. Frank Montgomery, but Mr. Arthur

"'"No, no," I said, "you are mistaken; it was Frank Montgomery, a
printer by trade, who owns the house we used to live in, at 1252
Seward Street. I am well acquainted with him."

"'"Well," said she, "this is certainly astonishing! Mr. Arthur
Phillips, whom I have known for years, a young gentleman of large
fortune, a lawyer by profession, comes to me and tells me, the very
day you said my son was not the man who assaulted you, that unless I
settled fifty dollars a week on you for life, by a deed of gift, he
would have Nathan rearrested for an attempt to murder you, and would
prove his guilt by your mother; and now you come and try to make me
believe that Arthur Phillips, the lawyer, is Frank Montgomery, the
printer; that he lives in a little house on Seward Street, and that I
have been giving him money to buy you houses and gardens and
blacksmith shops in the country! I hope, my dear, that the shock you
received, on that dreadful night, has not affected your mind. But I
would advise you to go home to your parents."

"'And therewithal she politely bowed me out.'

"'I was very much astonished and bewildered. I stood for some time on
the doorstep, not knowing what to do next. Then it occurred to me
that I would go to your house and ask you what it all meant; for I
had no doubt Mrs. Brederhagan was wrong, and that you were, indeed,
Frank Montgomery, the printer. I found the house locked up and empty.
A bill on the door showed that it was to rent, and referred inquiries
to the corner grocery. They remembered me very well there. I asked
them where you were. They did not know. Then I asked whether they
were not agents for you to rent the house. Oh, no; you did not own
the house. But had you not lived in it for years? No; you rented it
the very morning of the same day we moved in. I was astounded, and
more perplexed than ever. What did it all mean? If you did not own
the house and had not been born in it, or lived there all your life,
as you said, then the rest of your story was probably false also, and
the name you bore was assumed. And for what purpose? And why did you
move into that house the same day we rented it from you? It looked
like a scheme to entrap us; and yet you had always been so kind and
good that I could not think evil of you. Then it occurred to me that
I would go and see Peter Bingham, the proprietor of the theater. I
desired, anyhow, to tell him that I thought I would recover my voice,
and that I might want another engagement with him after awhile. When
I met him I fancied there was a shade of insolence in his manner.
When I spoke of singing again he laughed, and said he guessed I would
never want to go on the boards again. Why? I asked. Then he laughed
again, and said "Mr. Phillips would not let me;" and then he began to
abuse you, and said you "had forced him to give me fifty dollars a
week for my singing when it wasn't worth ten dollars; but he
understood then what it all meant, and that now every one understood
it;--that you had lived in the same house with me for months, and now
you had purchased a cage for your bird in the country." At first I
could not understand what he meant; and when at last I comprehended
his meaning and burst into tears, he began to apologize; but I would
not listen to him, and hurried home and told everything to papa and

"'Now,' she continued, looking me steadily in the face with her
frank, clear eyes, 'we have talked it all over for hours, and we have
come to several conclusions. First, you are not Francis Montgomery,
but Arthur Phillips; second, you are not a poor printer, but a rich
young gentleman; third, you have done me a great many kindnesses and
attributed them to others. You secured me a large salary from
Bingham; you made Mrs. Brederhagan settle an income upon me; you
nursed me through all my sickness, with the tenderness of a brother,
and you have bought this beautiful place and presented it to papa.
You have done us all nothing but good; and you claimed no credit for
it; and we shall all be grateful to you and honor you and pray for
you to the end of our lives. But,' and here she took my hand as a
sister might, 'but we cannot keep this place. You will yourself see
that we cannot. You a poor printer, we met on terms of equality. From
a rich young gentleman this noble gift would be universally
considered as the price of my honor and self-respect. It is so
considered already. The deed of gift from Mrs. Brederhagan I shall
avail myself of until I am able to resume my place on the stage; but
here is a deed, signed by my father and mother, for this place, and
tomorrow we must leave it. We may not meet again'- and here the large
eyes began to swim in tears--'but--but--I shall never forget your
goodness to me.'

"'Christina,' I said, 'suppose I had really been Frank Montgomery,
the printer, would you have driven me away from you thus?'

"'Oh! no! no!' she cried; 'you are our dearest and best friend. And I
do not drive you away. I must leave you. The world can have only one
interpretation of the relation of two people so differently
situated--a very wealthy young gentleman and a poor little singer,
the daughter of a poor, foreign-born workman.'

"'Well, then,' said I, taking her in my arms, 'let the blabbing,
babbling old world know that that poor little singer sits higher in
my heart, yes, in my brain and judgment, than all the queens and
princesses of the world. I have found in her the one inestimable
jewel of the earth--a truly good and noble woman. If I deceived you
it was because I loved you; loved you with my whole heart and soul
and all the depths of my being. I wanted to dwell in the same house
with you; to study you; to see you always near me. I was happier when
I was nursing you through your sickness than I have ever been before
or since. I was sorry, to tell the truth, when you got well, and were
no longer dependent on me. And now, Christina, if you will say yes,
we will fix the day for the wedding.'

"I knew as soon as I began to speak that I had won my case. There was
no struggle to escape from my arms; and, as I went on, she relaxed
even her rigidity, and reposed on my breast with trusting confidence.

"'Frank,' she said, not looking up, and speaking in a low tone--'I
shall always call you Frank--I loved the poor printer from the very
first; and if the rich man can be content with the affection I gave
the poor one, my heart and life are yours. But stop,' she added,
looking up with an arch smile, 'you must not forget the promise you
made me about New Year's day!'

"'Ah, my dear,' I replied, 'that was part of poor Frank's character,
and I suppose that is what you loved him for; but if you will marry a
rich man you must be content to forego all those attractions of the
poor, foolish printer. I shall not stand up next New Year's day and
make a vow to drink no more; but I make a vow now to kiss the
sweetest woman in the world every day in the year.'

"And, lest I should forget so sacred an obligation, I began to put my
vow into execution right then and there.

"Afterward the old folks were called in, and I told them my whole
story. And I said to them, moreover, that there was storm and danger
ahead; that the great convulsion might come any day; and so it is
agreed that we are to be married, at Christina's home, the day after
to-morrow. And to-morrow I want my dear mother, and you, my dear
friends, to go with me to visit the truest and noblest little woman
that ever promised to make a man happy."

When Max had finished his long story, his mother kissed and cried
over him; and Estella and I shook hands with him; and we were a very
happy party; and no one would have thought, from our jests and
laughter, that the bloodhounds of the aristocracy were hunting for
three of us, and that we were sitting under the dark presaging shadow
of a storm that was ready to vomit fire and blood at any moment.

Before we retired that night Estella and I had a private conference,
and I fear that at the end of it I made the same astonishing vow
which Max had made to Christina. And I came to another surprising
conclusion--that is, that no woman is worth worshiping unless she is
worth wooing. But what I said to Estella, and what she said to me,
will never be revealed to any one in this world;--the results,
however, will appear hereafter, in this veracious chronicle.



It was a bright and sunny autumn day. We were a very happy party.
Estella was disguised with gold spectacles, a black wig and a veil,
and she looked like some middle-aged school-teacher out for a
holiday. We took the electric motor to a station one mile and a half
from Mr. Jansen's, and walked the rest of the way. The air was pure
and sweet and light; it seemed to be breathed right out of heaven.
The breezes touched us and dallied with us and delighted us, like
ministering angels. The whole panoply of nature was magnificent; the
soft-hued, grassy fields; the embowered trees; the feeding cattle;
the children playing around the houses;--


"Clowns cracking jokes, and lasses with sly eyes,
And the smile settling on their sun-flecked cheeks
Like noon upon the mellow apricot."

My soul rose upon wings and swam in the ether like a swallow; and I
thanked God that he had given us this majestic, this beautiful, this
surpassing world, and had placed within us the delicate sensibility
and capability to enjoy it. In the presence of such things
death--annihilation--seemed to me impossible, and I exclaimed aloud:


"Hast thou not heard
That thine existence, here on earth, is but
The dark and narrow section of a life
Which was with God, long ere the sun was lit,
And shall be yet, when all the bold, bright stars
Are dark as death-dust?"

And oh, what a contrast was all this to the clouded world we had left
behind us, in yonder close-packed city, with its poverty, its misery,
its sin, its injustice, its scramble for gold, its dark hates and
terrible plots. But, I said to myself, while God permits man to wreck
himself, he denies him the power to destroy the world. The grass
covers the graves; the flowers grow in the furrows of the cannon
balls; the graceful foliage festoons with blossoms the ruins of the
prison and the torture-chamber; and the corn springs alike under the
foot of the helot or the yeoman. And I said to myself that, even
though civilization should commit suicide, the earth would still
remain--and with it some remnant of mankind; and out of the
uniformity of universal misery a race might again arise worthy of the
splendid heritage God has bestowed upon us.

Mr. Jansen had closed up his forge in honor of our visit, and had
donned a new broadcloth suit, in which he seemed as comfortable as a
whale in an overcoat. Christina ran out to meet us, bright and
handsome, all in white, with roses in her curly hair. The sweet-faced
old lady took her to her arms, and called her "my daughter," and
kissed her, and expressed her pleasure that her son was about to
marry so good and noble a girl. Mrs. Jansen held back modestly at
first, a little afraid of "the great folks," but she was brought
forward by Christina, and introduced to us all. And then we had to
make the acquaintance of the whole flock of blue-eyed, curly-haired,
rosy-cheeked little ones, gay in white dresses and bright ribbons.
Even Master Ole forgot, for a time, his enrapturing hammer and nails,
and stood, with eyes like saucers, contemplating the irruption of
outside barbarians. We went into the house, and there, with many a
laugh and jest, the spectacled school-teacher was transformed into my
own bright and happy Estella. The two girls flowed into one another,
by natural affinity, like a couple of drops of quicksilver; each
recognized the transparent soul in the other, and in a moment they
were friends for life.

We were a jolly party. Care flew far away from us, and many a laugh
and jest resounded.

"There is one thing, Christina," said Max, "that I cannot comprehend,
and of which I demand an explanation. Your name is 'Christina

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